Monday, June 7, 2010

A Kayaderosseras Ramble

I have a friend who has some problems with balance, so I'm always seeking out level hikes for our weekly nature outings. This week I chose a woodsy walk along the Kayaderosseras Creek near Ballston Spa.

It's a beautiful spot called the Burl Trail, with trailing willows and huge old Silver Maple trees hanging over the winding, rushing creek.

Although the trail itself is shady, sunlit open meadows stretch off to one side. Those meadows were alive today with flocks of swooping swallows and abloom with snowy Canada Anemones and bright Yellow Bedstraw.

Here's a little closer look at that Yellow Bedstraw.

Dainty little Lesser Stitchwort was also part of the meadow mix, its slender, weak stems almost invisible, so the flowers seem to float by themselves in the grass.

Pretty pink Alsike Clover added some color and fragrance to the scene.

These fat pods of Wild Garlic look like they are about to burst into bloom, but they often don't produce any flowers at all, or at most, just one or two straggly tiny blossoms.

That garlic was one of the very few native plants to be found along the trail, which was shoulder high with scraggly Poison Hemlock (no photo) and the yellow Wild Parsnip pictured here. Never try to pick this plant, because its sap will burn your skin.

Another native (surprise!) was Great Ragweed, not yet in bloom today, but recognizable by its distinct leaf shape. When it does bloom, its pollen is just as allergenic as its much smaller cousin's, and this ragweed can grow to be 15 feet tall or more.

This tree was just coming into bloom, with ivory-colored flowers in upright conical clusters among drooping shiny simple green leaves. I have no idea what this tree is, and I couldn't find anything like it in any of my tree guides. I suspect it's an introduced species. Anybody recognize it?

I didn't recognize this little snail, either. There were lots of them along the trail, and at first I thought they were slugs, because of the shape and color of their shells.

At least I now know what to call this emerald-green critter with the gold-leaf eye liner. It's a Leopard Frog, and there were two of them, just sitting there so calm while I took this picture. Maybe they thought they were too well camouflaged for me to see, so they just held still. Thank you, dear frog.


Ellen Rathbone said...

Could your mystery plant be Japanese knotweed, or false spiraea? These are two target species on my invasive plant search this summer.

Allan Stellar said...

I'm always amazed at your photos, writing and travels...


Jacqueline Donnelly said...

No, Ellen, this was a real TREE, not an herbaceous plant like either of those. I noticed today some similar trees planted around new construction in town, so it must be something the nurseries are promoting. Although this one looks like it's been there quite a while, to judge by its size.

Hi Allan, it's always good to hear from you. Thanks for the compliment. I am indeed a lucky lady to get to go out to play almost every day.

Steve Young said...

Your mystery tree is Japanese Lilac-tree, Syringa reticulata, and we think it may becoming an invasive problem along waterways in NY. It was found recently in a portion of a floodplain in Colombia County as a dominant. The landowner should get rid of it!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Thanks for the tree ID, Steve. Since posting this photo, I've seen this tree all over town, with the city planting it in lawn extensions, and landscapers choosing it for new construction sites. I believe the site where I found the one in my photo is actually part of Spa State Park. Do you have any influence over state park managers? Can NYFA or NYNHP issue bulletins to the landscaping industry, discouraging the use of this tree?